Speaking to a full conference hall at the Sands Expo Convention Centre, his speech focused on the factors that will contribute to the success or failure of the US sports betting industry, such as the legitimacy of an integrity fee, advertising issues and how to engage the millennial market.
Van Pelt did not hold back in his assessment of integrity fees, saying: “What, are you going to make me pay for the air I breathe next? I have eyes. I can see what’s happening in the game. Now you want 1%? Good luck with that, I’m lost on that one.”
He then addressed advertising, including for daily fantasy sports (DFS). Van Pelt said: “In 2015, I was on the show called ‘1 Big Thing’, it was around the third or fourth week of the year and I did a segment about those ads, every ad in every commercial break of an NFL game was some dude (a DFS player) holding a cheque for $2 million.”
Van Pelt has warned that companies must not get drawn into the lure of “big piles of money” and said it is important for common sense to be applied.
He said: “Everyone saw this pile of money but they dove headfirst into it like Scrooge McDuck and then everyone looked around and questioned why they pulled the plug on this, it’s because everyone acted like crazy people.”
Van Pelt believes the US sports betting market will evolve differently to the UK sector and emphasised that advertising shouldn’t be about beating people over the head.
During his talk, Van Pelt was also asked about the role sports betting could play in helping to engage with millennial audiences. He highlighted the need to maximise mobile betting but was quick to point out millennials might not be at live games and, therefore, not truly engaged with the sport.